Ask A Muslim: Praying 5 Times A Day

Ask A Muslim: Praying 5 Times A Day

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By Maimoona Harrington

What’s it like to pray 5 times a day? How do very busy people manage?

Before I answer the question, what’s it like to pray five times a day, it’s imperative to understand what a “prayer” is and its place in Islam. I will then further explain how very busy people manage it.

The five times daily prayers is known as “Namaz, Salat or Salah.” It was the first act of worship that was made obligatory by Allah (God) when Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings be upon), him was taken on his night journey (Meraj) and ascended to heaven. The word “Salat” occurs 67 times in the Holy Quran (Islam’s Scripture). There are five pillars of Islam and prayer is the second pillar. It is compulsory for all adult males, females whether at home or traveling, in peace or war, in health and sickness. The only exemption is for the women during their menstruation period and they do not have to make up for these days.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, Istanbul Turkey/Maimoona Harrington

Each prayer consists of various numbers of rakah’s (units/ cycles). Some of these rakah’s are mandatory and some supererogatory. Prayers are performed after ritual purification or ablution. Muslims face the direction of Kaaba in Makkah – Islam’s Qiblah. One makes an intention to pray and then recite various verses from the Holy Quran and praise Allah.

Those who hold fast to the Book and establish Salah, We shall never let the reward of (such) righteous people to go to waste.

-Quran, Chapter 7- Verse 170

Now to answer second part of the question, how very busy people manage it. Prayers are obligatory and there should not be an excuse to miss them. However, there can be times when one is unable to offer them on time for various reasons. If you are traveling or sick, you can also offer Qada (delayed prayer) or Qasr  (shortened prayer during travel). Besides sickness or travel,  if you did not wake up on time for the prayer or for any other reason are unable to offer prayer on its set time, then one has the option of the delayed prayer or combine missed prayer or prayers with the next prayer to  make up for it. One can also make up gradually for all the missed prayers of their lives at any time in their life.

I did not fulfil prayer obligation for a long time in my own life. I would pray may be one prayer per day or even one a week.  I would make several excuses in my mind to satisfy my guilt, blame it on work or on lack of time. However, now I have made it a part of my life, I cannot leave it anymore. If I miss a prayer, I feel a vacuum inside me, and I cannot sleep peacefully knowing I missed a prayer. There are still times when I miss a prayer due to travel or sickness or I overslept, but I am grateful that I am able to make them up with the next prayer. The only way to fulfill our obligation toward our creator is to incorporate praying in your life just like drinking, eating and sleeping. Once you do that, it becomes a routine norm that you can’t live without. And that’s what most Muslims do, they embed prayer in their daily lives.

Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers Especially the middle prayer, and stand before Allah in a devout (frame of mind).  

-Quran, Chapter 2 – Verse 238

Daily prayers are our connection with our Creator, The Almighty Allah (God). We prostrate to show our gratitude for our blessings whether small or big. It’s our one to one time with our creator to connect and communicate. 

Besides religious obligation, prayer is a break from the hustle and bustle of our daily routine. We have so much to be thankful for in our daily lives and in our busy schedule, prayer provides us those intermittent moments to be grateful to look back, to appreciate and to praise. Daily prayers are a great way of teaching us punctuality, regularity, cleanliness, humility, self-discipline, self-control, piety, patience and perseverance. One can relate to pray as their spiritual exercise, purification of their body and soul, stress relief activity for the brain and body. We pause, we think, we connect and become grateful, hopeful and recharged.

I am not a religious scholar. I tried to answer this question with the best of my knowledge and understanding of Islam as a Muslim. 

About Maimoona Harrington

Maimoona Harrington was born and raised in Pakistan moved to the United States with her family in 2008. She is married and a mother of two sons. She has a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies and sociology from Pakistan and a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from United States. Along with her career as an interpreter, translator and monitor she is also an Islamic and Pakistani Culture Adviser.

As a practicing Muslim with the extensive world travel and living in the West, she has devoted herself to spread awareness of Islam as a goodwill gesture. In an effort to do this she started writing from her own personal experiences with religion, beliefs and life in a different culture. She also has special interest in all the religions and how and why they are all important to its followers. Her primary focus is on the co-existence and harmony between all human beings. Her message is to spread peace not division. She strongly believes that if you want to be closer to your creator then love His creation unconditionally and expect nothing in return for He loves us unconditionally and forgives us no matter how sinful we are!

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